A discussion of Theatre of the Absurd in relation to "Waiting For Godot", "The Bald Prima Donna" and "The Dumb Waiter".

Essay by excentriqueA-, October 2004

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"The Theatre of the Absurd is a theatrical embodiment and manifestation of existentialism. It is part reality and part nightmare" - Martin Esslin.

This quote along with that from "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett:

Vladimir: "It's not certain."

Estragon: "No, nothing is certain."

can tell us about the Theatre of the Absurd and its connection with the philosophy of existentialism.

"Waiting for Godot" along with "Bald Prima Donna" by Ionesco and "The Dumb Waiter" by Pinter, can be used to prove the Absurd playwrights point and what they mean.

In "Waiting for Godot" (WFG), we see two men sitting at a simple setting of "A tree" along "A country road". The first line can be said to sum up the Theatre of the Absurd "Nothing to be done". This quote has the sub-text of the existentialist philosophy. Although it seems like nothing is going on, there is always something happening.

This line also tells us of the belief that nothing ever happens, though it would be foolish to say so. There are some factors that set aside Theatre of the Absurd from realistic plays. One of these factors is the different use of 'comedy and violence'.

In WFG, we see this occur many a time but probably most distinctively when Vladimir and Estragon talk about hanging themselves.

E: Let's hang ourselves

V: Hmmm... it'd give us an erection.

This black comedy is used in WFG and other Absurd plays. The audience's reaction to this is to laugh. They may either find it humorous or disturbing but have no other option than to laugh.

Intentional illogicality is seen in WFG like in Lucky's 'dream speech'. Even his name "Lucky" juxtaposes the person he is. In a performance seen at Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney we saw a man being pulled...